Let’s Play with our Food with @HSOTweets (plus – Big Red and Aids CT Oscars Night)

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Hello friends!  Such a long hiatus from blogging for me.  A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body going through drastic changes tends to… not get much blogging accomplished.  So – finally – back at it with three fantastic events: two past and one upcoming this Saturday!

So let’s start with Playing with Food, one of my favorite yearly shows from the Hartford Symphony.  The brainchild of Head Conductor, Carolyn Kuan, this is the third inception of Playing with Food – this year featuring the handsome and charming Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame onstage with Carolyn to discuss the dishes of the Vivo, M & M Bistro, and the CT Convention Center!

I was fortunate enough to attend the press preview for Vivo to witness Carolyn’s creative process in action:

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Somedays my job is cooler than other days (the Marriott where Vivo resides, as well as the Hartford Symphony, are both advertising clients of mine)

Carolyn Kuan uses the opportunity of tasting the dishes to begin building connections to musical notes.  A french bouillabaisse might call up a light French horn, for example, or bone marrow might be reminiscent of a “big fat tuba” (direct quote)

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Also, delicious bone marrow.  Pictured: Chef Bill Reardon’s braised Veal Osso Bucco with chanterelles, Risotto Milanese, and Tomato Espuma.

After the tasting, Carolyn creates connections to classical pieces of music, and they are performed live at the concert, after a chat with the chefs, in order to complete the connection between the sight, smell, and taste of the food and the sound of the music!

The show will be this Saturday, March 21st, at 730 pm, at the Bushnell Mortenson Hall.  You can buy tickets here.

So, that will be pretty awesome.  Also noteworthy this past month: the Aids CT Oscars NightThis yearly event raises money for the Aids Foundation and is a great chance to get dolled up and experience some live red carpet action.  It’s nice to watch at home in your PJs sure, but who doesn’t like a little glamor in their life?

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All dolled up with some good friends

I wore an awesome, sequined criss cross dress from Venom Vintage, who can provide cutting edge period pieces for any red carpet event:

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The braids?  I’m not sure where the braids came from.  Lazy Girl hair day I guess

Spotlight Theaters on Front Street was the gracious host of the event for the second year in a row.  It works well as they have a full bar in the theater, plus all the movie seating to watch the Oscars live on a big screen!  Very fun idea.

Last, but certainly not least - Big Red celebrated its 10th anniversary in existence with the Greater Hartford Arts Council

Housed at the Society Room, Big Red features wine sampling and food pairings from local vinters and chefs, making for an excellent evening of food, wine, conversation, and most importantly – raising money to support arts and culture in Hartford!

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With our new Publisher, Rick Daniels, Mary Lou Stoneburner, our VP of Advertising and Michael Guinan, Ad Director for Hartford Magazine

One of the major, major highlights for the evening for me was the enormous paella brought by J Restaurant:

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Wow.  I could curl up and take a nap in that paella pan – it’s that big

The paella paired nicely with a Sottobosco Rosso blend, a deep Italian red with just a hint of sweetness (I personally prefer pairing paella with red wine vs white – I feel it has enough meaty characteristics to go both ways)

Also on hand for drinks – a pleasing Ginger & Thyme Prosecco cocktail from Vito’s

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Executive Chef, Rob Maffucci, was also onsite serving his signature truffled chocolate pasta dish

Also noteworthy on the food scapes – Bear’s Smokehouse,

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Literal bears yaaas

Nora Cupcakes, naturally

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The very best!

And a wonderful, local, Granby based ice cream store – Grass Roots Creamery

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I tried lemongrass, so good.  They have impressive, unique flavor combos inspired by Humphry Slocombe

Overall, a very good couple of weeks for food and culture in Hartford.  There’s definitely no shortage of cool things to choose from – so get out there and enjoy it!

NOLCHA Fashion Week

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This was my second season at Nolcha Fashion Week – an independent showcase for designers during New York Fashion Week.  It’s an amazing opportunity to preview indie designs from very talented up and coming fashion retailers – and the whole thing is housed in the very cool Chelsea Piers

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I like anywhere that puts the hash tag right on the wall

I headed down with my very cool friend Kat, (two Kats!  go ahead and have fun with that.  we always do).  She is a very talented photographer and graphic designer, and all the fashion photos in the latter half of this article were taken by her.  You can check out her website here:

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And of course, our road trip snap chat!  Taken by her because I was, you know, driving and stuff

Other good friends at Nolcha: Paula has been closely involved in this show for six years and was kind enough to get me passes to all three designer showcases.  Thanks Paula!  You looked fab as always

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xoxo

In addition to the fashion, there are some cool product samplings from the Nolcha sponsors.  My favorites were:

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J R Ewing Bourbon.  Oh hello.  Ever since beginning my 2014 quest to appreciate bourbon, I’ve been growing and growing as a connoisseur.  Best. Resolution.  Ever.  This particular on – named for the eponymous Dallas character yet produced in Kentucky (of course) is smooth and crisp with just a hint of a bite at the end.  Just like J R.  Hoping to find a local distributor in CT!

solo nails swag

Solo Gel Nails.  This one was a mixed bag for me.  As you can see by the snap chat caption – I was VERY excited to get it – more so than any of the other swag.  However, I found that several of the layers I put on bubbled a bit and one of them chipped off.  Now, it does state very clearly that this is a ONE coat system.  So I’ll have to try again and see if I have better luck.  I can be a messy child.  The color is very fab too, so I’m hoping it works better the second time around

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Pretty red

Last but certainly not least – Vegan Therapy hair products!

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Such nice ladies!  And the shampoo and conditioner were lightweight and left my hair shiny and silky smooth.  I’m not personally a vegan, but I do love that this product isn’t tested on animals and I think it’s very cool that there are good options out there for my vegan friends – and I would use this based on its quality alone.  Very nice.

Another highlight of the evening in terms of discovering new products – a serendipitous run in with a girl carrying a Leoht bag!  What’s a leoht you ask?  Well, it’s a concept bag which will be launching in the fall which sports LED lighting and two USB ports for bag charging purposes!  I need it, I will have it, that is all

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You probably need it too!  Right?  Right.

But enough with the preludes.  We were at Nolcha for one very important reason: fashion.  And fashion we had in spades.  There were three separate shows featuring a total of eight designers: Yvette Hass, Haute Athletics, Charles & Ron, Mitsou Ly, Katty Xiomara, Prieston, Ann Himsel, and Danny Nguyen Couture

 My personal highlights: dark plum and leather accents, lots of capes (hello 70s), seeing sportswear from HA on the cat walk, transparent white and fashion forward pieces from Yvette Hass, and a twist of urban cool from Ann Himsel.  But don’t take my word for it – a picture is worth a thousand words after all – so check out these pictures from Kat Mizla:

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50 Shades of Grey Revisited + a LOVE STORY

The Courant published a very pithy, very witty, very en pointe piece yesterday on 50 Shades of Grey – the Movie.  You can read it here if you’d like.  It inspired me to dig up my own quasi-feminist rant on the same topic – well close – I actually wrote my piece on the book.  Before we dive into my rantings, however, check out this upcoming show by my good friend Laree!  Perfect for Valentines Day, amirite?

love story by Laree

More info available here

So yes, back to my ramblings on 50 Shades:

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ahem

Ok, ok, ok.  So this is a New York Times bestseller.  As a writer of sorts, I can appreciate that a whole truckload of people read, and most likely, did not think that Fifty Shades of Grey sucked in unintentional ways that had nothing to do with all the actual sucking going on, if you catch my oh-so-unsubtle drift.  And as Oscar Wilde famously remarked: “insanity is a minority of one.”  But as I muttered under my breath, to my dogs, about five minutes ago: “‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is like ‘Twilight’ for soccer moms.”

I’m irritated by the near unanimous consensus that we are supposed to get all hot and bothered in our lady parts by the one-dimensional, cardboard, rich, troubled, genius: Mr. Grey.  Sure, some women do like it.  They like it a lot, apparently:

But it’s called ‘the feminine mystique’ for a reason people – we are turned on in mysterious and intricate ways.  If there was a one step, proven way to get us gals going, the male half of our species would be as ecstatic as a college student with a brand new Audi (no wait, she hated the car….oh sorry, spoiler alert).  Now, I’ve read – and appreciated – erotica before.  Full disclosure.  But reading this book was a path of self discovery of sorts for me, as I found out that my ultimate turnoff is bad writing. I’ve been more aroused reading the “news” section of Glenn Beck’s website.  Ok – so perhaps that’s an ever so slight (read, massive) hyperbole.  It’s impossible to be turned on when thinking of Glenn Beck.  Science!  But it’s also highly difficult for a little, literate geek like me to be seduced by lazy and trite character development, predictable plot full of chiseled chinned billionaires and swooning virgins, and – let’s face it – the safest S & M this side of the Mississippi.  Or the other side of the river too- those west coasters can be pretty freaky I’m sure.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying this book, if you did.  And there’s nothing wrong with fluffy reading.  Steven King was correct when he said that some books should be read for the plot and the action, and others for the writing.  Unfortunately, and I’m sure somewhat subjectively, for me, Fifty Shades of Grey was neither the former nor latter.

A very fun and special Frozen photoshoot for Penelope with Sassy Mouth Photo!

So, my child is a tiny, tiny Ham.  She loves the camera, the camera loves her – who am I to argue with true love?  And the mini sessions at Sassy Mouth Photo are fun and perfect and oh so convenient for taking nice pictures of a Little who doesn’t like to stay still – but does love to be in front of the lens

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“Yes, adore me.  I’m Perfect.”  All photo credits to Sassy Mouth in this blog – with the exception of the two photos that she is in, which I took (naturally)

All Marisa’s photo shoots are themed – this was Frozen, naturally – and my what small child isn’t obsessed with Frozen?  Penelope certainly is.  We watch “Let It Go” on Youtube at least five times a day.  It grows more enjoyable with each viewing, trust me.  So, a chance to twirl as Elsa was truly magical, and the half hour session length is just perfect for little attention spans.

Plus, Marisa is really, really, really great with kids.  She and P hit it off straight away:

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Such good friends, so quickly

And her studio is perfect and full of exactly what a child would want – small chairs, indoor snowballs, and OLAF

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE OLAF!

P had such a wonderful time, and we have so many great pictures from the shoot:

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MY BABY!!!

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So precious

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So happy!

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CAN YOU STAND IT

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And this child found her mark every single time.  Such a tiny pro :*)

I’m already looking forward to a Mommy/Daughter tea time photoshoot for mother’s day with Sassy Mouth.  Please, do like her Facebook page hereOr follow her Instagram hereAnd if you have a Little and live in CT – check her out!  Super fun experience for everyone.

Majorca, Taste of Hartford, the Ct Science Center and Mohegan #SunWineFest

Wooo!  A busy and foodie couple of weeks folks.  But first – two sneak preview of upcoming posts I’m very excited about…

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Love Under the Boardwalk

In partnership with the Wadsworth’s new and very noteworthy Coney Island Exhibit, my good friend Carolyn Paine is producing an original choreographed production, produced by the Wadsworth Atheneum, in partnership with her company, CONNetic Dance.  Featuring classical ballet intermixed with circus theatricals, performances will be Saturday, February 7th, at 2 pm and 8 pm, and tickets are available at the Wadsworth’s website.

Also – Penelope had a Very Special Photoshoot and she was the littlest Princess Elsa of all at Sassy Mouth Photo!

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I can’t even.  Bet you can’t either.  So cute.

So, more to come on both these things.  But first – a look back at some amazing and fun times over the past couple of weeks!

First, Hartford picked up a new Tapas restaurant: Majorca

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With some good friends, old and new at the Grand Opening, which benefited Family Life Education

Majorca specializes in tapas, small plates, and is a very welcome continuation of the space once occupied by O’Porto in the West End.

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Grilled calamari.  Charred to perfection and ever so preferable to the more prevalent, fried variety

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Oysters with a classic vinaigrette.  REALLY big oysters.

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A true Spanish classic: dates stuffed with manchego and wrapped in prosciutto.

There were also four cocktail samples to try:

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Pictured left to right: Pineapple Mule (pineapple vodka, ginger beer, fresh pineapple), Ginger Plum Martini (plum vodka, ginger liqueur, sour mix), the “Majorca” (citrus vodka, Hypnotic, and white cranberry juice) and Red Sangria (simple syrup, triple sec, fruit juice, and Sycamore Lane Cabernet)

As well as a fancy, necessary cheese plate:

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Paired with a nice rioja – always good to find a rioja present on the wine list. 

I am quite, quite happy to have this new little gem among my dining choices in Hartford, and I’m excited to go back for a full meal – hopefully soon!

Speaking of meals – Taste of Hartford is currently entering its second week.

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P and I have gone out twice to enjoy it – and I’m looking forward to going to Agave (sans P, alas) later on this week.  This last week’s experiences took us to Ted’s Montana Grill and Carbone’s, respectively.  But before Teds – we hit up the CT Science Center

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Which had a packed house due to special pricing for MLK Day

This wasn’t our frist trip to the Science Center, but it definitely was the best so far – P really enjoyed herself and is finally old enough to fully enjoy the exhibits geared towards younger kids – of which there are several!  Our favorites:

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Kinetic water experiments on the first floor

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Digging for fossils on the third floor

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And a super fun ‘eco awareness’ playhouse (also on the 3rd floor)

We followed this awesome playtime by lunch at Ted’s

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Bison burger for me, cookie for P, happiness for all

And went out again a couple days later to Carbone’s with the lovely Cathy and Rachel!

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Ladies’ night

In addition to the Taste menu, there was a very, very excellent Arancini starter

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Yummm

Paired with a nice Aperol Sunset cocktail:

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Like a margarita, but with way more bite

Followed by a lovely salad

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P ate all my pomegranate seeds for me

And a perfectly sized portion of lemony shrimp risotto:

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Which I paired with prosecco because of course I did.

For anyone who’s not familiar, Taste is a restaurant week – well weeks really – featuring prix fixe appetizer, entree, and dessert options for either $20.15 or $30.15.  It’s fun and affordable and I put quite a bit of time into organizing it, so I really appreciate that I can ‘eat’ it once it’s up and running -not all promotions offer such literal satisfaction.  In addition to several wonderful meals, I was thoroughly spoiled this weekend at Mohegan Sun and Wine Festival

I was able to stop by the Bourbon Tasting on Friday night, which was a new experience for me and also, a neat use of my 2014 resolution (which was to drink more bourbon).  I was extraordinarily negligent on the photos – however – I did enjoy several samplings: Maker’s 46 being my favorite.  It was elated to be able to drink it both neat and on the rocks and appreciate its nuances and woody palate – finally a bourbon girl!  Hurrah!  Also, who wouldn’t appreciate this dessert lineup:

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Wow yourself

And I did, at least, manage a bathroom selfie, because who doesn’t love one of those?

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In a new fav dress from Silkworm and absolutely zero chill.  Oh well.

Returning the next day for Sun Wine Fest, I managed to both: 1/ take many more pictures and 2/ really enjoy this event, which last year had been overwhelmed and under impressed.  It’s hard to do Wine Fest and not feel the immediate, pressing urge to sample all the wine.  Because there are so many to try, both high end and low, and going in with focus and direction helps:

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And also a map

Amanda and I attended together and came up with a simple plan: stick to bubbles as much as possible:

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Moet bubbles with strawberry caviar

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Ok, cheating because not carbonated, but a really excellent French rose: Whispering Angel

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Three nice varietals from Sonoma, from the Gloria Ferrer.  Where I’ll be hopefully headed at Thanksgiving.  Oh yaaas.

I also bumped into some good friends:

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Yes, I consider Mumm Napa Rose to be a good friend.  We are on BFF terms actually

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Also, the gorgeous Betsy Foster and a ‘ghost Lisa’

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Our amazing and beautiful Social Media maven, Suzie Hunter, with her new friend Oliver English

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And last, but very certainly not least – the Cupcake Goddess herself, Carrie, of Nora Cupcake

To wrap up the afternoon, we headed upstairs to the beer tasting and I found a very nice new summer beverage which I’ll absolutely be stalking down locally, one way or another:
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It’s from the Long Island sound and it’s a glorious tart combination of whiskey, vodka, and lemonade.  I loved it.

So yes, quite a lovely afternoon, all in all!  Not to mention, a great couple of weeks.  Yay.

Penelope’s Big Year + Send a Kid to Camp Courant!

This post is all about my kid – Penelope – and some of my favorite photos from this past year.  I promised it to a couple of you in lieu of the Facebook ‘year in review’ algorithm (which I don’t care to do for multiple reasons).  So I hope you enjoy!  And speaking of kids – a great fundraiser is coming up in February – for Camp Courant.  I’ll be there – will you?

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2014 was a big year for little Penelope!  She finally grew some hair!

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Naice hair

Learned to walk:

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Like a Big Girl

Enjoyed her first birthday party:

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And her birthday cupcakes

Visited the Garlic Farm:
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Seen here with a scape, which we learned are for looking at and not eating raw in the car

Rosedale Vineyards:

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Straight up chilling with Scott Miller

As well as Lost Acres Vineyard:

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Where they look the other way when babies sneak grapes off the vine

We also went to the beach!

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Seen here at Cape Cod in a baby tankini with whales.  So fetch.

And to Florida

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Swimming with Grandpa in Florida

We learned about the finer things in life, such as:

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Fashion

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Cannoli

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Cupcakes

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…and temper tantrums.  Unfortunately.

We attended some marvelous parties:
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Such style

And channeled our inner Naked Cowboy:

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Went to lunch with the ladies

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Bonded with our favorite Auntie

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And coordinated outfits with Mommy

And we finished up the year dancing on the stage at the Wadsworth in an ugly Christmas sweater at the Connetic Dance Nutcracker Suite and Spicy matinee:

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So amazing

Such a big girl now :*)  Mommy is so proud.

#SingerIslandScenes and Family Bonding in Florida

Wow.  It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks.  First – a blissful week of relaxing, lovely vacation in Florida with my closest family and friends.  Then – home to the frozen north and a massive, cigar induced upper respiratory infection (more on the cigar to follow).  Play hard and pay for it?  Perhaps.  Worth it?  Oh very definitely.

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Scene from outside of my Dad’s Singer Island condo. Singer Island is a lovely little strip of land close to Palm Beach Gardens, with a big state park right on the ocean and miles of wild and healthy beaches.  It’s pretty great.

It’s funny how after four years in Connecticut – Florida still feels like home.  Maybe it’s because my closest family (aka my parents and siblings) all live and/or congregate there for the holidays.  Maybe it’s because, well, Palm Beach Gardens is just awesome.  Endless warm weather, white sandy beaches, amazing foodie scene, and the best shopping center in the entire world: The Gardens Mall

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Lilly Pulitzer from the signature Gardens store and a Bellini at Brio.  Basically perfection.

Not to mention the world’s best supermarket:

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Publix - home to $40 Veuve Cliquot sales and Caitlin’s favorite cake

Oh yeah – Cait was in Florida too – in Palm Beach Gardens – where she is ever year for Christmas.  It’s amazing we met in Connecticut and not previously in Florida, all things considered.  Anyway, it makes the holidays that much better, and it’s always lovely to see Cait’s little sister Hannah too!

downtown at the gardens

Photo credit to Caitlin in this picture, which is why she’s not pictured.  I love 1/ the Florida Christmas trees and 2/ that I casually match the tree.  Also – @SingerIslandScenes Instagram reblogged this – I recommend following them to anyone who loves beautiful Floridian wildlife, as there’s plenty of that on their page.

This particular picture was taken during one of several excursions to Downtown at the Gardens.  I relived my college days with happy hour at Ra and the completely amazing crunchy spicy tuna roll:

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Whoa.  So good. 

We also ventured to a really cool cigar bar – Angry Moon Cigars

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Pros: excellent Instagram.  Cons: wicked bad chest infection which probably had something to do with cigar.  Oh well.  I’ll probably still try another at some point, as it was really good

And a huge trip highlight – a trip to The Cooper

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Dave doing his most excellent mixology thing

Yes – the Max Restaurant Group has a location in Palm Beach Gardens now, so naturally we’re obsessed with it.  It was lovely to drink a sophisticated take on rum punch in the December:

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The Walking Dead: House rum blend, velvet falernum, don’s mix, grenadine, angostura, absinthe

As well as a most excellent cheese plate:

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That’s my little sis in my crop top and my awesome cousin Geo in my vintage Lilly Pulitzer shirt.  I love it

And a small tuna plate:

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ALL MINE

One of my very best friends from college, Jenn, stopped by for drinks after dinner too, the same night!  So much fun catching up

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Love her

So yes – tons and tons of fun time with friends.  But of course – the time with Penelope was the most special and important of all!  And she had a blast – on the beach:

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Making her beautiful sand castle

Hanging with her Papi:

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Yep!  That’s my Daddy

Chilling with Mommy:

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Baby fedora, we brought congri, and then P took a nap on the beach.  Super Cuban.

Baking ninja gingerbread:

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Excellent ninjas or spastic gingerbread men or whatever.

Attending church on Christmas Eve at Christ Fellowship:

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There was a step and repeat (really – it’s the South) but unfortunately we were too distracted to get a picture (also I knew Helen would mock me for asking)

P also enjoyed playing her new American Girl dolly, courtesy of her Daddy’s parents… I mean Santa Claus:

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Such a beautiful dolly.  I’m already plotting our trip to NYC for tea with the dolly.  Obviously more for me than for P at this point, but I think she will enjoy it also

with her cousins Christmas day:

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Awwwww.  P and Logan!

Oh – also Christmas day?  This happened.  It’s a full on Cuban Christmas lunch:

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You know, the traditional stuff.  Tostones, black beans, yucca with mojo, brussel spouts, mac and cheese, glazed carrots, sous vide lamb, and sous vide pork. 

P and I wore matching Mommy and me Lilly Pulitzer from Silkworm in West Hartford:

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My precious baby!

So basically yes, not a traditional white Christmas with stockings by the fire and a roast turkey (or …something?  I think some people do these things, haha).  But a perfect Christmas for us in every way.  Can’t wait to go back soon – I hope everyone else was blessed with lovely family and friends and great family traditions also!